I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you’re probably not a great marketer. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. As a manufacturing business with a relatively limited number of different customers, it’s no surprise that most of your efforts (and budget dollars) focus on producing a quality product as efficiently as possible. But it’s a topic you shouldn’t be ignoring — indeed, it’s something you should be trying to get better at.
A wise grower said something at an event recently that stuck with me: everybody grows high-quality plants now. That’s the minimum acceptable standard for being in business. It’s the extra added value you deliver that creates demand for your business, service or product that keeps the grow lights on and the irrigation flowing and ultimately makes you money.
Competition is fierce for the consumers you and your retail customers serve. More than ever before, the consumer has more ways to spend their time and money on things that don’t involve your plants. Anything you can do to set your business apart from the crowd and build new demand for your product is a smart use of your valuable resources.
The tricky part with good marketing is it’s a moving target. If you come up with a great message or program that really connects with customers, it’s likely that your competitors are going to notice and follow suit (if they can). And even the best message or program starts to fall flat with your customers after a period of time. Marketing messages become stale, of course, but it’s not just your message. Your audience is changing, too. Their needs, wants and tastes are different today than they were last year.
Either way, your marketing has to evolve along with everything around you.
We’ve tapped into some really innovative marketing minds who are doing just that. Jim Hole, co–owner of the grower/retailer Hole’s At The Enjoy Centre, explains in this month’s Perspective how he’s adapting in order to appeal to the fast-changing consumer market by completely reinventing the way his business retails product.
Rocket Farms, Costa Farms, Metrolina Greenhouses and Bell Nursery are some really forward-thinking growers who understand their marketing programs have to both stand out from all the noise, and — even more importantly — really connect with their target audiences in a meaningful way. They’re embracing fast-growing but underserved market segments. They’re playing off partnerships with their retailers. They’re understanding existing consumer customers better. Or, as with Rocket Farms, they’re just getting out and creating demand face-to-face, one consumer at a time.
Good marketing is hard work, often with an unclear direct return on your investment. The cost of not doing it, however, is likely going to be pretty expensive for the future of your business.